To Leave or Not to Leave

Home is my personal “land of the fairies,” where I lose track of time, and even of what

Needs a few cats...

Needs a few cats…

day it is. I’ll often wake up and think, “I’m not sure whether it’s Saturday or Sunday. How lovely! But I still have 147 pages of revisions to do for Tremaine and Nita, and when did I become so addicted to the verb ‘to sport?’ I should do a global search. Lordy, I hope it’s Saturday, because the manuscript is due Monday…”

Happy thoughts. I can hear Winnie the Pooh singing, “Rum Tum Tiddle Dum, Rum Tum Tiddle Deeeee” as I pother around in my writing world.

Winnie-the-Pooh-HumBut I’ve learned that I need to get out, to drop in on my readers via social media, to write this blog, to occasionally meet a real, live, human friend in person for a bowl of soup, or a hot chocolate. In the land of Today is Tuesday, I am refueled in a way that home, with all its wonders, can’t do for me.

grow tubbyI’ve also learned that I need to move, physically, to GET OUT OF THE CHAIR, though everything in me rebels at the very notion. I’m happy when I sit in my writing chair, rum-tum-tiddle-dumming away. Happy, do you hear me? I’m also significantly overweight, and at risk for early Alzheimers.

So I get out of the chair, even if it’s only to toddle for a bit at the treadmill desk. I hate every minute of that exercise, but I will hate more being unable to recall my daughter’s name.

day without a friendAnother lesson that I know, though I must relearn it often, is that I have a tendency to hang on too long to relationships that aren’t working. I suspect the day job falls into this category–twenty years of child abuse law is enough. I’ve kept other jobs too long, kept relationships too long, and kept congregational affiliations for too long. “Too long,” means I’m spending way too much of myself on a situation that’s not giving enough, and I’m the only person to whom this imbalance matters.

Me, at Glencoe in Scotland, proving that I do Get Out occasionally...

Me, at Glencoe in Scotland, proving that I do Get Out occasionally…

I’m getting better about this, though, and what has helped is an uncomfortable insight: I want to be loved tenaciously. I want to be worthy of other people’s committed devotion, even when I’m lost in the land of Rum Tum Tiddle Dum, even when I’m obsessing over the verb ‘to sport,’ as if that really matters. I want what I’m giving away.

In my reluctance to cut loose what’s not working, I have my priorities inside out. I think it was Maya Angelou who said, “weak people give up and stay, strong people give up and move on.” I need to move on more readily than I do, not because I’m strong, but because that’s the way to be the most honorable in my regard for myself.

What lessons or decision points seem to circle your life? Do the upcoming holidays present any quizzes or tests that you intend to face differently this year? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amex gift card.

Oh, Happy Day!

darius_4502As most of you probably know, Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for the 2013 RITA awards, and Darius: Lord of Pleasures was among those selected in the historical category. (If you’d like to see all of the finalists, they’re here.) The historical category finalist list reads like a cross between my keeper shelf and my TBR pile, so I am very pleased to be in this company.

The winners are announced at RWA’s National Conference in July, and it’s an exciting, tense, fun evening for the finalists. The author, accompanied by the book’s editor, goes up to the microphone in a room full of 2000+ peers and industry professionals. A few minutes are allotted for the author’s comments, and a very pretty metal statuette is presented to each winner. Much applause, a few tears, a few drinks and many congratulations.

RITABut wait a minute. The editor is there, but where is the publisher, the person who ultimately made the decision acquire that book rather any one of thousands of others? Where’s the copy editor, who caught more typos and wordos than Carter has liver pills, and where’s the proofreader who caught her fair share as well? Where’s the production editor, who kept the manuscript moving through an entire chocolate factory of transformations, from story to shelved book?

And let’s not forget about the Art Department, who came up with an eye-catching cover; book making, who somehow changed bytes into books; the sales folks who talked that book into retail outlets; the publicist, who led the cheers for the book as if her name were on the cover; the foreign sales agent who sold the book in Japan among other places; the formatters who have to tweak the file so it loads smoothly onto at least a half dozen different retail ebook platforms…. the booksellers, the bloggers and reviewers, the admin staff holding the universe together, the web geniuses who present the book so beautifully on the website…

giantsDarius might be my story, but it’s not my book. It’s our book–all of us who put it together, read it, talked about it, boosted it on its way to this recognition. So, thanks to you, thanks to my book team, thanks to RWA. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Newton’s quote comes to mind, though writing a romance novel is by no means an accomplishment comparable to his contributions to science: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

My story; our book. Who are your giants? The guy who keeps your car running? Your day care mom? Your kid’s counselor? Your sister-in-law? To five commenters, I’ll send signed copies of Darius: Lord of Pleasures.


Georgia on My Calendar

I’ve just come from the 2013 gathering of the Romance Writers of America, one of several professional conferences I attend each year. On general principles, the notion of spending a week in a mid-city hotel, eating conference food, wearing conference shoes, and dealing with hordes of people ought not to appeal to me, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s gathering.

marriott atriumHow can that be? My tolerance for noise is… well, I don’t have any, and this was an atrium hotel that looked to be at least 30 stories high. The bar was in one of the open-plan lobbies, and we ladies got loud, then louder still. My tolerance for gratuitous displays of emotion isn’t much greater, and yet, BOTH luncheon speakers moved us to tears, and that was just fine.

marriott lobbyWhat’s different about this gathering? Yes, it’s a professional conference. People are pitching their books, meeting with potential agents and editors, negotiating deals, scarfing up workshop wisdom, and making connections with readers, and yet, it has the feel of a family reunion. I know of one pair of writers who’ve been critique partners for two years, and they met for the first time last week in Atlanta. That’s not unusual.

I arranged to meet a Facebook writing friend for breakfast, she brought her roommate, and we might well stay in touch on social media, get together at a subsequent conference, trade beta reads, or otherwise build on that small but enjoyable interaction.

Some of the appeal of the conference, though, has to do with the nature of writers. Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, we’re people who notice what happens in life. We notice setting, and we notice subtext–what’s not being said, what’s emotionally driving somebody but never acknowledged. In other words, we’re probably on the more perceptive end of the scale. At a gathering of writers, you can have all the space you need, but you won’t have to make much of an effort to connect, if connecting is what you want to do.

This group is also–generalization alert–mostly female, as in 99 percent female, at least. Certain dynamics that might afflict other gatherings are largely absent from this one.

And some of the credit has to go to RWA itself. I once heard Julia Quinn say, “You will never hurt your career by helping another author.” This might be engraved over the figurative door to the RWA office, because it represents Holy Writ to most romance authors. If you can do another author a good turn, it is your privilege to oblige. This ethic tartan_450-204x335of professional collaboration might well be part of the reason romance is a $1.37 billion industry, and growing.

So I had a lovely week, despite being a warp nine, noise-intolerant, tactile-avoidant, introvert. I was with the right kind of people, focused on the right kind of agenda.

What sort of group do you enjoy meeting with? Does the task at hand make a difference? The setting? The membership?

To one commenter, I’ll send an audio version of “Once Upon a Tartan.”


My Favorite King

I’m watching an early (1969) Masterpiece Theatre production titled, “The First Churchills,” which is a history of the First Duke of Marlborogh and his lady wife. The couple’s letters, diaries, and other preserved papers served as the basis of the series, which begins during the reign of Charles II.

first churchillsA small digression here. Charles II was spirited out of England at the age of 21 (with a price on his head) and given sanctuary by his cousin Louis at the French court (among other places), while his poor papa, Charles I, became the only English monarch to die at the hands of his people. Oliver Cromwell became de facto dictator of England for about nine years, but upon Cromwell’s death, Charles was invited to resume the throne.

Charles II

Charles II

After nine years of Puritanism and piety at swordpoint, a king who would grant amnesty to many who’d opposed him and his father, who enjoyed horse races, theater. tennis, and many of the pastimes Puritans had outlawed, was a welcome change of pace. He had his detractors, of course, Britain still being the grip of much religious intolerance, and Charles advocating for tolerance, but for all that, he is remembered as, “The Merry Monarch.”

John Wilmot, Earl of Richmond, and friend to the king, came up with the following couplet:

We have a pretty witty king, And whose word no man relies on,
He never said a foolish thing, And never did a wise one”[27]

to which Charles supposedly said “that’s true, for my words are my own, but my actions are those of my ministers”.

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

Charles was witty, tolerant, lusty (he acknowledged twelve bastards, nearly all of them inheriting titles or marrying titles), and able to laugh at himself and at court politics. He understood that gallantry, beauty, wit, poetry, recreation, and socializing are necessary if life isn’t to be unendurable. (And if Prince William takes the throne, he’ll be the first British monarch descended from Charles II, though the connection is matrilineal).

I like this guy. I like a reminder that music and theatre are fun, that nobody is getting out of this gig alive, that we need to get along with each other lest we all end up dead and deadly dull. I’m not so keen on a dozen illegitimate children, but Charles acknowledged every one, remained on good terms with his ladies, and his last thoughts were apparently of concern for his mistresses. “Let not poor Nellie starve” he begged his brother, referring to the actress, Nell Gwynn.

William kissing kateI write historical romance in part because I find history delightfully interesting. Charles also coped with the last devastating London plague, the Great Fire, various wars, and–I think this is important, too–was the first monarch to grant licenses to theaters that allowed women’s roles to be played by women, not boys. Imagine basing a novel on any one of those aspects of Charles’s reign….

What historical figure would you like to meet, to have for a friend? Why?

To one commenter, I’ll send an audio copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid.”

How my horse taught me to write…

When I paid attention, I learned a lot from my horse. My most recent Personal Steed was a 17.1 hand Hanoverian (doing business as an Oldenburg) gelding whom I referred to as Boy Genius. When he had adequate years, his moniker morphed into Wonder Pony, and several other appellations, depending on the quality of our ability to communicate.

Beloved Offspring on Beloved Andy

I am not by nature an athlete. My idea of a good day is to sit for at least six hours in front of the computer, spewing make believe and swilling decaf tea, then having a nice lie down with my latest potential keeper (book, that is) for a few hours, then a few more hours of composing at the computer. I will feed my beasts at the beginning and the end of the day, which entails heaving a few hay bales, maybe lugging a 50-pound sack of pony chow from the top to the bottom of the barn, and chucking out some 5-gallon buckets of water, but God forbid I should break a sweat.

As much as I loved my horse and enjoyed riding, there were many days when my energy for the task was not great. Then too, there were windy days, when the arena might creak and groan, provoking my dearest steed to occasional lapses of dignity. Or sometimes it might be stinkin’ hot, or stinkin’ cold. Stinkin’ rainy was only half an excuse because I rode in an indoor arena, but it would do in a pinch.

Some days, I would get to the barn, tack up my horse (or the grooms, sly boots, would tack him up for me), and lead him into the arena, and still, the motivation to ride would not well up in my soul. “I’ll just ride him at the walk,” I’d say. I’d swing aboard, pat my pony, and off he would saunter. He has a lovely walk, does Wonder Pony. He walks like a gunslinger, and if you make allowances for his species, the guy is certainly tall, dark and handsome.

We’d walk this-a-way, and that-a-way, and pretty soon, we’d have walked just about every way you can in a modest indoor, all the while having a nice visit with my instructor about Life In General, or maybe a little about how the horse feels to me as we walk. What the hell, I would say to my pony after about ten minutes, let’s just loosen up a little at the trot. But the horse has a pretty big trot, and as is the case with some warmbloods, he loosens up better at the canter.

So what the other hell, I’d cue him into a nice, relaxed canter, which is kinda fun. But you can’t canter just one way, so we’d canter around the other direction and maybe try a flying change across the middle, and before long, I’m trying to put the horse together in a working trot, working on suppleness, moving him off my leg (this is a term of art), and generally engaged in the meat of a worthwhile riding lesson.

Todd Bryan, most wonderful trainer

My instructor (also tall, dark and handsome, but not the same species as the horse) probably pulled my horse aside first thing in the day, and worked out this little conspiracy, but eventually, when I’d say, “I think I’ll just sit on him at the walk,” it was all both of them could do not to laugh at my prevarications outright.

Let them laugh. They are my prevarications, and they serve me well. When I’m not enthusiastic about taking a walk (which is 90 percent of the time) I’ll tell myself, “I’ll just go a half mile to the neighbor’s mail box). This is generally the start of a two-mile walk. When it comes to housework, I tell myself, “Just vacuum the bedroom. You can worry about the downstairs later.” And sometimes, I do, and sometimes, as long as I have the darnedd thing out…

When it comes to my writing, prevaricating is very handy. “I’ll just read over what I wrote yesterday….” “I’ll just buff the last scene, add a little dialogue…” “I’ll just get out one scene, then have a cup of tea….” If you ride the right horse, if you’re patient with yourself, and you don’t judge yourself for nibbling your way through life’s challenges, you too can complete twenty-five manuscripts without ever once pressuring yourself  to finish a single book.

 Have you ever walked your way to a significant accomplishment? Tried just one date, signed up for a single course… tell us about it. To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “Lady Eve’s Indiscretion,” which is also a story about taking small steps toward a big goal.


A Very Good Two Years

My daughter called me up a few years ago, in the middle of one of those weeks when the spare went flat, the rent check bounced, and the professor sprang a pop quiz on the one assignment she had forgotten to read.

“Why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown up is HARD?” she wailed, and my heart went out to her. As a child, adulthood looms as a golden land free of boiled asparagus, a place where we can stay up late every night, and never have to get on another school bus again. Time passes, and we see that staying up late isn’t all we dreamed it could be.

Being a published author is a little like growing up. Two years ago this month, my first book hit the shelves—a dream come true! And yet… I’ve learned a few things too, not all of them happy. Some of my lessons learned:

1)      Romance readers are among the kindest, most together people on the planet, and most romance authors are cut from the same cloth. We have our priorities straight, and for the most part, we treat each other decently. Yes, there are a few people, some of them reviewers, who must believe being snarky and narcissistic is some sort of contribution to the marketplace of ideas, but those people are by far in the minority, and they are not unique to the publishing industry.

2)      Luck has a lot to do with whether a writer succeeds commercially, the same as it affects the careers of doctors, ditch diggers, teachers, and everybody else trying to earn a living. One author’s book is chosen for some award, another’s gets into the hands of a mean reviewer on a mean day. When I realized that luck is not the exclusive plague of the fiction writer, writing became no more risky than lawyering, parenting or riding horses—all of which I’ve done with some success.

3)      Writing professionally is hard, not only because there are deadlines, reviews, and financial anxieties, but also because the manuscript I write becomes the property of an organization intent on maximizing the book’s commercial appeal, though how that’s done is still largely a mystery. In some ways, as an author, I have the least say over how the finished product is polished and packaged. In any survey of self-published authors, they do not cite increased revenue as their primary reason for turning away from traditional publishing, they cite an unwillingness to surrender artistic control as the reason they abandon the traditional publishing model. That’s significant.

4)      The final lesson learned is probably the most important: I love to write romance. I wasn’t sure I would, once the royalty checks, deadlines, and sales figures started showing up, but I do, I do, I do love to write. This is a Big Gift, because having a passion in this life is an inoculation against all manner of woes and miseries that a mere paycheck cannot cure.

I hope twenty years from now, I’m still writing romances, and still feeling mighty, mighty grateful to have that privilege.

What’s your passion? Is it the same one you had twenty years ago? Two years ago? To one commenter below, I’ll send a signed copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid.”




Appropriately Attired

I did not go tearing into the office this past Monday morning, but instead opened up my WIP (work in progress) and set to work on a new scene. This WIP is giving me fits—most of ‘em do, though a few have not—and I have the sense if I don’t beaver away at it, the story will evaporate from my imagination, along with the motivation to write it down.

Phone rings, and whoopsie, there’s a good possibility I’m going to be called into the courthouse. Foster care laws are written so if the state should snatch your children, you at least get a judge to look the situation over in short order. Sometimes, I get an hour’s notice that I have a hearing, sometimes a day. When the holidays loom, business always picks up.

Scheduling court hearings is like trying to make a Rubik’s cube come right. Certain matters can only be heard in certain courtrooms (with a jury box); others have to be proximate to the holding cells or have AV equipment for evidence presentation purposes. For a foster care case, as many as four attorneys have to be rounded up (for kids, mom, dad, and local child welfare department), along with social workers, witnesses, parties, and supervisors.

So there was a good chance Monday’s case would not be heard Monday, and an equally good chance it would. I live more than twenty country miles from the courthouse…

So, you ask, why not just change into courtroom attire, hop in the truck, and work on the WIP at the office, which is twenty steps from the courthouse? Makes perfect sense, right?


One cannot wear jammies to court. Not only is it frowned upon (the courthouse has a dress code), but an offended judge can hold counsel in direct contempt, which involves a one way trip to the local hoosegow.

I’ve written fiction on the office computer on occasion—romantic fiction, that is. I’ve spent many and many an hour trying to be productive while waiting to find out if a hearing is going forward. Sometimes this means I judge contest entries, draft blogs, or even work on the WIP at the office.

But having a tenuous hold on the current story, I did not want to change out of my writing clothes unless I had to.


Writing clothes? I was utterly bumfuzzled to learn that writing Regency romance has come to mean, for me, that I’m wearing yoga pants, tie-dyed Maggie Moo organic wool socks, a fleecy top, and Nike slides rather than outfits that flatter me or present me as a courthouse professional. And somehow, these clothes make it more likely (in my mind) that what I’m writing will be Good Stuff, as opposed to words produced in an effort to feel productive at the law office.

When did this happen and what’s the significance of it? I know I can’t lawyer in my jammies, but when did I decide that I can’t be a romance author in my lawyer duds? Because, apparently I have.


Do you have wardrobe quirks that surprise even you? Favorite socks? A laundry sorting hat?

To one commenter, I’ll send a pair of Maggie Moo Organize wool tie-dyed Writing Socks, and a signed copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid,” my first Scottish Victorian romance, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012.


Contested Winnings

We come now to the time of year I think of as “contest time,” meaning the time of year when chapters of Romance Writers of America are holding writing contests for aspiring authors. Some of these competitions are fierce, with as many as 300 entries in a single category, and all of them take tremendous effort to coordinate.

I am published in part because of these chapter contests, for two reasons. First, when my prospective editor asked, ‘What ammunition can you give me to set you apart from all the other unpublished Regency authors?’ I could point to a fistful of contest wins and finals. I had no idea they were significant, but they got me the all important boost out of the slush pile.

Second, many contests are judged by published authors, and friends and neighbors, I am telling you, when a published author sets out to ‘splain what you’re doing wrong, she’s usually accurate, articulate, and ferociously determined to get her message across.

I got comments along the lines of, “I’m being so hard on you because I believe in your voice.” That after, three pages of solid, relentless critique. Another author told me I was going to end up in the missed-it-by-that-much category if I didn’t tend to the things she pointed out, and that would be TRAGIC, given the potential in my writing.

Yikes! I paid attention. I buffed the goods and now it’s my turn to judge a few contests.

I enjoy it. I enjoy seeing the wonderful creativity awaiting publication, I enjoy knowing I might be able to sand off a few rough edges on somebody’s writing, and give them the boost so generously given to me. The world can never have enough well written love stories, after all.

And that would be motivation enough to accept the judging packet, but a funny thing happens when I get into judging mode: My writing improves.

When I’m beavering away at a Work In Progress, I’m usually struggling to get the story on the page, struggling to figure out what the story is, so I can get it on the page. I lose sight of the old chestnuts:

1)      Avoid starting a sentence with ‘there are,’ or ‘it is’

2)      Cut the words, ‘just,’ ‘very,’ and ‘that’ whenever you can

3)      Establish the setting with sensory details that are either symbolic or have significance to the Point of View character only

The list of shoulds and oughts is long, and as Voltaire observed, when it comes to writing, the list cannot be learned quickly no matter how talented or dedicated the student. I’m reminded though, of the efficacy of the one room school house approach to education.

Once upon a time, somebody took a bunch of students from a public school setting, and instead of having each grade taught by a separate teacher, they went back to the older method, of having the students in each grade teach the students below them in one-to-one or nearly one-to-one sessions. The result was an improvement in everybody’s performance, and with much less effort on the teacher’s part (though I assume the process took more time, at least).

So I get to help out some aspiring writers, but I benefit as much as anybody else. Pretty cool.

Has a generous impulse ever yielded an unexpected bonus for you? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight,” or, if you’re an aspiring author, I’ll critique three scenes of your fiction writing–let me know in the comments if that’s your preference.


Happily Ever Grateful

“It will never hurt your career to help another author.” Julia Quinn included this admonition in a recent speech to a group of romance writers, myself included. She had other gems to impart, but this one stood out to me and garnered immediate applause.

I haven’t been writing that long, but I’m confident of my facts when I say there is an ethic—not just a habit, not a tendency, but an ethic—among romance writers of mutual support. When I go to writers’ workshops, I hear the science fiction/mystery/thriller/literary writers complimenting the romance writers on the extent to which we encourage each other, share what we know, and go a long, long way to get each other published.

This attitude of shared endeavor was an enormous surprise to me when I started writing. I’m a lawyer, and maybe that predisposes me to adversariness. I’m also used to figuring things out for myself, relying on myself, and generally making my own way—and those characteristics were present before I studied law (says my mother).

So when a book of mine hits the shelves, and somebody emails me offering to give me a guest slot on their blog, I’m surprised and thankful.

When I sit down at a signing, and the authors on either side of me immediately introduce themselves and admire my book covers, I feel bashful.

When readers shoot me “enjoyed your book/keep ‘em coming!” emails, I am shamelessly flattered that they’d take the time to appreciate something they paid hard earned coin to own.

When my editor spontaneously gathers up all her authors for a meal at a conference, and gives us a chance to hear from one another about what we’re working on, I forget the food on my plate.

Having my books for sale is encouraging for somebody who does not view another twenty years in the courtroom with boundless glee, but being in a healthy community of writers is… well, it ought to be the last item in one of those credit card ads, the one described as priceless. People pay money to spend time in groups where they’re listened to, encouraged, mentored, made welcome, and supported. Short of family and the occasional church group, that kind of interaction is rare and precious.

All of which is to say, I’m grateful to write romance novels. In the greater world, and the literary world in particular, romance novels are not considered a significant contribution. Our readers feel differently, because, as Julia Quinn also said, “we make people happy, and that matters.”

I’m proud to associate with the people I know who write romance. The overwhelming majority of them are generous, courageous, kind and honorable. Maybe it’s because we believe in the love we write about, maybe it’s because writing is a fundamentally humanizing pursuit.

I don’t know why I’m privileged to associate with such a group, but I’m profoundly grateful to call myself one of them.

What about you? What was your first experience with being part of a group you were proud of and grateful to?

To one commenter below, I’ll send a signed copy of “Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight.”

The All Important Mirror

WHY have I gone two weeks without updating my blog? Shame on me! But not really shame on me because I was off at a writing seminar taught by James Scott Bell. I want to learn how to write really good books, you see, and that means I must occasionally tear myself away from the fun of writing and focus on the craft of writing.

And friends, I learned a lot. One of the concepts cited frequently was that of “sign post scenes.” These are the moments that recur, book after book, in much good fiction. Many writing instructors have a of list of them, or particular names for them–the inciting incident (JSB does not like term because every incident in a good book ought to incite somebody to do something, right?), the black moment, the point of no return.

I’m not much of a list maker, not much of a conscious book plotter, but one scene we discussed stood out: The Look in the Mirror. This is the point in the book where Our Hero and/or Heroine is barreling along, trying to mind their own business or save the world or stay drunk, when the Clever Author puts them in a situation where they must face what sort of person they’re becoming (or have become). They further face the fact that they have choices regarding whether that’s the sort of person they continue to be.

Interestingly, Mr. Bell noted that this scene is often dead center in the book. Michael Hague of Storymastery legend says what he finds at the dead center of the book is a scene he calls, “the point of no return.” By that point, the protagonist has gained enough insight to know the old self or life is lost to them forever, but they haven’t quite located the courage to commit to change.

And I’m sure every half-awake romance reader in the room is noting that around page 175 is usually when the relationship is fully consummated. This makes sense to me. What is an intimate moment, except a time when we’re forced to deal with who we are, who we really, truly, probably not entirely happily are?

And yet, I don’t think one scene of a character peering into the moral mirror will do for a solid romance. From my perspective, the function of the entire budding relationship is to give the character the courage and motivation to deal with their wounds, weaknesses, and flaws, and  step by step, to change themselves if necessary to earn a life graced with  true love.

What do YOU think? Have the books you’ve enjoyed had a light bulb scene in the middle of the book, or shown character growth over a progression of scenes? Both? Neither? Does any of this relate to real life?

To one commenter, I will give a SIGNED copy of Eloisa James’ lovely, “The Ugly Duchess,” which has a lot to tell us about change, growth, and true love.